The Boss sneak into President's Cup final

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The Boss sneak into Presidents Cup final
Al Ain's Danilo Asprilla competes for the ball against Bani Yas's Fawaz Awana during their President's Cup semi-finals match at Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday.

Abu Dhabi - The semifinals turned on its head in last 10 minutes of normal time

By Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Sun 22 May 2016, 12:00 AM

Last updated: Sun 22 May 2016, 11:27 AM

Lee Myung-Joo rescued 'the Boss' the blushes with a winner in the 111th minute that saw Al Ain move into the finals of the President's Cup with 3-2 score line.
 The semis between Al Ain and Bani Yas turned on its head in last 10 minutes of normal time. It was as anticlimactic as it can get at the Al Jazira's Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium on Saturday night.
 Al Ain up 2-0 thanks to a brilliant 67th minute stunner from Omar Abdulrahman and another scorcher in the 85th minute by Danilo Asprilla off a Douglas pass had all but confirmed the finals slot.
 However, there was a twist to this melodrama. With four minutes of added time, Bani Yas pushed men forward and Ishak Belfodil - back from injury - converted a Suhail Al Noubi cross to make it 2-1. And in the very next minute, Amer Abdulrahman made it 2-2 in what was a melee inside the Al Ain penalty box.
 Adding to Al Ain woes, manager Zlatko Dalic had by then substituted both Omar and Mohammed Abdulrahman.
 It was in the 111th minute that Fellipe Bastos passed onto Douglas who released the ball for the South Korean to fire in and keep finals dream intact.
 Two minutes later, Asprilla could have killed the contest when he flew and had only the keeper to beat, but played a cheeky chip that went over the crossbar. In between the Colombian did find time to make a premature celebration.
 A match marked by more tussles than tactics, an improved Bani Yas pushed Al Ain to the wall. It was a boggy start to the proceedings, with Al Ain in particular seemingly hesitant to get going. Playing second match inside four days had tired them down.
 The first shot on target was made, not surprisingly, by a Bani Yas player. In the fourth minute, Bani Yas were awarded a free-kick and left back Royston Drenthe tested goalkeeper Khalid Eissa with a thunderbolt.
 And on the counter-attack, Omar missed an easy chance. On the run, he had two defenders to beat and got rid of both but shot wide.
 The Garden City club wasted many set-piece moves. Al Ain had an indirect free-kick awarded inside the penalty area in the 10th minute for a deliberate back pass to the keeper. Omar chipped the ball and defender Mohamed Ahmed connected through a header but couldn't convert.
 In the 28th minute, Al Ain had a free kick wasted outside the penalty area and it was the same combination of Omar-Ahmed this time too. Ahmed's header had power in them but lacked direction.
 All through the first half, Asprilla and Omar had strong runs that were thwarted either by a resolute Baniyas defence or due to lack of support from own team.
 If the first half was physical, the second session too started with its share of run-ins.
 Ishak Belfodil had a rampaging run through the left flank blocked by Fawzi. The Algerian and Co immediately appealed for penalty but referee didn't oblige.
 It was a contentious call which should have gone Baniyas way and that raised tempers.
 The next 10 minutes, were all about show of physical prowess, hard tackles, players on the ground, bookings but no goal.
 Amid all this mayhem, in the 67th minute, Omar converted a long ranger - a powerful shot - which Mohsin couldn't parry. And then followed a goal riot that took the battle into extra-time.
 ashwani@khaleejtimes.com



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